With the end of the season screaming at us full force, overtime became the buzzword and trending topic for the Buffalo Sabres in the month of March. Five of the teams ten games in March thus far have been taking long than 60 minutes to play.
The Buffalo Sabres decided last night wasn’t going to need more than 60 minutes. In front of a very pro-Buffalo crow at the Tampa Bay Times Forum; the Buffalo Sabres scored and scored and scored in route to a 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the most goals the Sabres have scored in a single game all season – and it is just what the Buffalo Sabres need to open things up heading into the remains of a difficult season.
“I’d love to be playing with these guys for the rest of the year here,” said Foligno. “Staff is just another big guy. He’s really powerful, his stride is amazing and he’s really fast. He can also rip the puck. Then I’m just another physical guy that can finish as well. And Ennis, you can’t say enough about that guy. He’s a waterbug. When he gets loose it’s dangerous out there.”
That about sums up the best line for the Buffalo Sabres since it was formed – and i don’t think Foligno has to worry about where he will be playing this year. While the Americans hold on to just the final playoff spot in the AHL Western Conference and are in a tight battle themselves, they will have to do so without the services of Marcus Foligno. I wrote several games ago that the tweet of the night labelled Foligno the ultimate winner in the Buffalo Sabres trade with the Vancouver Canucks for that sent Hodgson and Sulzer east, while Kassian and Gragnani headed west. Foligno was called up prior to the March 10th game and has been a machine since coming up, something the Sabres have to be hoping continues as Vanek continues his offensive struggles.
If last night was a benchmark and a turning point for the Buffalo Sabres offense, it is only fitting that Cody Hodgson, the newest Buffalo Sabre registered his first point in Blue and Gold. With his two assists, he was the last Buffalo Sabres with better than five games without a point. Colin Stuart (2 games), Joe Finley (5 games), and Derek Whitmore (2 games) are the only members of this organization that have donned a sweater that will end the season without a regular season point.
I had to laugh at the score of the game, not because the Lightning looked funny as we ran up the score, but just one night prior on our live podcast Rink Side Rants we had goaltending prospect Adam Avramenko and one of the points of discussion was larger nets, and increased scoring. The highlight of the show was when I told co-host of the night Amy Gist of Blades of Teal that I wouldn’t care if a goaltenders GAA was over 3 – if my team was pumping six or seven goals a game. Adam seemed to appreciate that – despite his inability to get on board with larger nets.
Things were looking good for the Buffalo Sabres to tie for the eighth and final playoff spot with just nine games remaining. Detroit did the Sabres no favors last night; despite the fact that they surged late, the Caps were able to hold on for a regulation victory, maintaining a two point pace over the Sabres with an equal amount of games. Buffalo has to beat the Caps outright in points for the final spot in the eastern conference, as Washington has a clear lead in the first tie breaker. The Sabres do play the Capitals once, so winning against them in regulation, and winning more than they do the rest of the way seems like a simple equation, on top of the fact that the Buffalo Sabres schedule is not as strong as the Caps, we could be looking at hockey beyond Saturday April 7th.
Buffalo is off until Wednesday, when they host the Montreal Canadiens at the First Niagara Center.